In 2015 for my milestone birthday Bryan organized an Around the World trip for me. One of the places I had always wanted to visit was the Piedmont region in Northern Italy. Even though I typically don't love my November birthday (the November weather in Boston leaves much to be desired), I knew that white truffle season peaked around November. Therefore, we planned our trip around the White Alba Truffle Festival.
Along the way, we discovered our love for Piedmont food and also the amazing wine in the region (hello Barolo and Barbaresco!).
Though we can't travel right now, we got a taste of our Piedmont memories at Castellana, a new Piedmont restaurant that opened in Causeway Bay at the Cubus building.
Castellana is born out of a collaboration involving 2-Michelin starred chef Marco Sacco from Piccolo Lago in Verbania. Castellana focuses on traditional Piedmont food, but updates certain dishes with a "modern twist". The menu includes signature dishes from Piccolo Lago but also adds other dishes that incorporate local ingredients and seasons. Right now during the fall/winter season there is a huge focus on white Alba truffles, including two different white Alba truffle tasting menus.
We opted to try the Castellana "Journey Around the World" tasting menu, which comes either as a 4-course of 7-course tasting. Bryan got the traditional tasting while I tried the vegetarian tasting.
First Course: Salad
The first salad course consisted of burrata cheese, Mazara del Vallo Sicilian red prawns. On the vegetarian tasting menu I had a tomato, basil, and mozzarella cheese salad. They were both nice, but the prawn version was much better.
Second Course: Pasta
This next dish is their signature dish, Carbonara "Au Koque." A traditional carbonara is made by tossing pasta in a mixture of egg yolks, guanciale, cheese, and a good dose of black pepper (my favorite recipe is here).
Castellana's signature version is different because it's semi-deconstructed. The guanciale sits on top and the egg yolk "sauce" is poured table-side. They had some black truffles (this was before white alba truffle season), and shaved some on top.
Bryan loved it.
I also loved my mushroom "farroto" (like a risotto but made with farro grains), which was the "pasta" on the vegetarian menu. The texture was fantastic, and the flavors were deep and full of mushroom flavor.
The kitchen also sent out a black garlic risotto for us to try and we both loved it. The deep dark flavors of the black garlic were even more intense than normal garlic, which we already really like. I would definitely order this.
La Porca Costina, or glazed Iberico pork ribs, was the last course. This came with a small side of broccoli rabe and purple cabbage. Though it was small, ribs were expertly executed and delicious.
Cheese and Dessert
Bryan opted for the lovely sampling of classic Piedmont cheeses while I got the refreshingly light homemade yogurt.
Bryan was excited they had several different kinds of Barolo Chinato, including one he'd never had before.
General Thoughts - Castellana Hong Kong
We had a lovely time at Castellana. The ambiance was warm and inviting, the service was excellent, and the food was great. For us, the pastas and the risottos stood out the most, and we'd go back for that alone. We also enjoyed the other courses, and overall thought the execution of everything was very, very good.
Bryan's words as we were leaving the restaurant, "I'd come back here."
With the travel restrictions right now, we certainly won't be going back to Italy anytime soon. However, we can still get a little, delicious, slice of Piedmont in a high rise overlooking Causeway Bay.
I'm actually really thankful about that.
Castellana Hong Kong
10/F Cubus, 1 Hoi Ping Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
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